Inspired by Singapore's policy of executing drug traffickers, President Trump is said to relish the idea of putting major dealers to death - who he is said to compare to serial killers, Axios reports.
"He says that a lot," said a source who's spoken to Trump at length about the subject. "He says, 'When I ask the prime minister of Singapore do they have a drug problem [the prime minister replies,] 'No. Death penalty'."
According to five sources who have spoken with Trump on the subject, it's no joke to the President - who says that a softer approach to drug reform where you show sympathy to the offenders "will never work."
Trump feels that children need to be taught that they'll die if they fall into a life of drugs, and that drug dealers should be made to fear for their lives, according to the report - however he acknowledges that it would probably be near impossible to pass such a law in the United States.
There are currently 33 countries for which drug crimes carry the death penalty - mostly located in Asia and the Middle East.
Axios reports that Kellyanne Conway - who leads the White House's anti-drug efforts - clarified Trump's position, saying that Trump is talking about high-volume dealers who are killing thousands of people.
The point he's making, she says, is that some states execute criminals for killing one person but a dealer who brings a tiny quantity of fentanyl into a community can cause mass death in just one weekend, often with impunity.
"The president makes a distinction between those that are languishing in prison for low-level drug offenses and the kingpins hauling thousands of lethal doses of fentanyl into communities, that are responsible for many casualties in a single weekend."
Trump may back legislation for a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for traffickers dealing in as little as two grams of fentanyl - down from 40 grams for the same sentence. The DEA estimates that two grams is sufficient to kill people.
- Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, and much of it is manufactured in Chinese labs. It can be lethal in extremely small doses. Of the 64,000 people who died of drug overdoses in 2016, more than 20,000 overdosed on synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse.
Conway thinks this type of policy would have widespread support.
“There is an appetite among many law enforcement, health professionals and grieving families that we must toughen up our criminal and sentencing statutes to match the new reality of drugs like fentanyl, which are so lethal in such small doses,” she said.
Trump is reportedly discussing new policies with his advisors, including whether they may adopt some of Singapore's less "lethal" approaches to "zero tolerance" drug policies - including bringing more anti-drug education into schools. Both Kellyanne Conway and Melania Trump support introducing better drug education programs in schools aimed at prevention.